Johnny Cantor: Many happy returns to BBC Sussex ... here’s to local media’s important role

Johnny Cantor with BBC Sussex summariser Warren Aspinall
Johnny Cantor with BBC Sussex summariser Warren Aspinall

Happy birthday.... no, not to me, but to BBC Sussex.

Wednesday marks the 50th birthday of the station. I’m sure plenty of things have changed since the first fader was opened back in 1968. There have been advances in technology of course. The days of cutting tape have gone and the world is digital now.

The studios are certainly different as well as the buildings and the people. However, some things remain the same. For me, the intrinsic value of local radio and the local media is a constant.

Last week one of our guests on Albion Unlimited was Argus reporter Andy Naylor, who has spent countless years covering Brighton and Hove Albion and across some very turbulent times.

He even recently received a cake from the club for all his years of service. We discussed the importance of investigative journalism and the role played by the newspaper when the sale of the Goldstone Ground was uncovered.

The club’s emergence may now be in the country’s conscience but the local media still plays a vital role for viewers, listeners and readers.

It is great to have this paper added to the list. We all play slightly different roles, we all have a slightly different focus but we all try to deliver coverage minute by minute, day by day, season by season and year by year.

In my time with BBC Sussex I have had a variety of summarisers sat beside me in the commentary box but this week I will be thinking of former player Norman Gall.

I still see Norman from time to time but he was playing for the club 50-odd years ago. A true professional on the pitch and on air, he is also a true gentleman.

Saying that he used to have fun. He regularly took the mickey out of me and Dean Adams as we trekked around the country. And quite right too.

The passion is there from us all. The local media has an important role to play and news teams up and down the country attempt to bring to account public figures and bodies.

I know coverage in local and national media will always be subject to criticism but like many people you can’t please everyone all of the time. What I do know is that we all try our best to provide the best, most accurate, most informative and most entertaining coverage we can. As a bit of fun last week I made my own attempt at baking a cake for the team on the Albion Unlimited show.

It may not have been up to the necessary standard to celebrate the station’s 50th birthday but like everything it was made with the best of intentions.

There is a connection between the station and the community and that includes sport. Last weekend we brought listeners live commentary, match reports, post-match reaction, the draw for the semi-final of the Sussex Senior Cup, news of our local cricketers across the globe and medal hopes for our Winter Olympians.

Here’s to another 50 years of local coverage and success for our local teams. Who knows what will change over that time but hopefully my baking will have improved.

Johnny Cantor covers Brighton & Hove Albion as a commentator and reporter for BBC Sussex Sport.

Follow all the action, home or away, on BBC Sussex Sport or Twitter: @BBCSussexSport or @johnnycburger

To read more by Johnny Cantor, visit

Albion Unlimited podcast is available to download via BBC iPlayer and iTunes